This write up is for those diaspora Gambian younger generation who were born after 1994.
Those who do not know what government legal and extra-legal repression of public criticism means. Those that did not live “dictatorship” where owning a book, speaking against the ills of the state or even gossiping about the President in a bar was a sure way to the crime of sedition.
The government of the day operated an uneducated intelligence agency in the name of “National Intelligence Agency,” which had fetish for crushed genitalia. On many occasions, the NIA harass the opposition and journalists for supporting opposition politics. Many died in the hands of organized youth-based militia gangs, who had full support of Yahya’s government. Many were arrested, tortured and killed. Some went into exile to escape Yahya’s brutality.
Reflection on dictatorship:
Under the trance of fear, a nation hid from the world. Inside its doors hundreds of able-bodied citizens died in secret. Some were buried in prison sites, and others’ bones were dissolved in acid.
[We] did not speak. [We] hoped it would end soon.
Just like the others who had also seen, we told no one. A hundred, and then a hundred more, herded into holding houses. Picked up — taken from homes, offloaded from saloon cars, hustled from offices, stopped on their way to somewhere else—prosecuted, and judged at night. Guilty, they were loaded onto the backs of lorries. And afterward, lime-sprinkled corpses were heaped in large holes dug into the grounds of appropriated farms. Washed in acid, covered with soil that became even more crimson, upon which new forests were planted.
Folks, we must never lend support to ANY government, that seeks to subjugate sections of society, arbitrarily arrest its citizens, frame people for crimes they have not committed, or kill its ardent critics. If you do, the snake will come back to bite.
The guns in Yundum today may be pointed in the direction of Sankwia someday. I hope it doesn’t happen in my lifetime. This historical, constant and alternating vilification of one or another ethnic community, depending on who is in control of state power, will one day explode in ways in which we will be unable to control.
President Adama Barrow does not know this pain. He comes from a background of comfort, and familiar privilege who never spent a day with the notorious National Intelligence Agency.